We use a theory-based approach to assess applied research projects. A theory of change describes the relationships between an intervention (i.e. a research project or program) and its intended results (outcomes and impacts). Theory of change mapping:
- articulates the assumptions about how change might be achieved through the research process;
- provides a clear map for guiding research process;
- can be used as points of reference to measure research outcomes and impact.
The components typically contained in a theory of change are illustrated in the figure below:
We are currently developing theories of change to explore impact pathways of diverse research projects. We are supporting colleagues at Royal Roads to develop theories of change to guide their programming and research. We also use the tool to guide our internal research planning, monitoring and evaluation.